Jim and Marge Bristow embarked on a journey to find treatment options to help their daughter Mary Carol, who was born with Cerebral Palsy in 1946. They created a strong network of parents who faced similar challenges and were dedicated to advocating for their children. The Bristow’s were instrumental in founding the Dayton Chapter of United Cerebral Palsy in 1956, which laid the foundation for what is now United Rehabilitation Services. March is not only Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, but it is also Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and part of our mission at URS is to advocate and educate our community about people with disabilities. Below you will find information about Cerebral Palsy as we help raise awareness for this disorder that affects many of the individuals we serve at URS.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Cerebral means having to do with the brain and palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles.

The symptoms of Cerebral palsy vary by the person and the severity of their disorder. Some folks with CP might use a wheelchair or walker, while others may have a slight ambulatory problem.

There are four types of Cerebral Palsy:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – The most common type of CP is spastic CP, which affects about 80% of individuals with Cerebral palsy. People with spastic CP have increased muscle tone which makes their muscles stiff.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – People with dyskinetic CP have problems controlling the movement of their hands, arms, feet and legs, making it difficult to sit and walk. The movements are uncontrollable and can be slow or rapid and jerky. A person with dyskinetic CP has muscle tone that can change from too tight to too loose during a single day.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – People with ataxic CP have problems with balance and coordination and might be unsteady when they walk.
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy – Some people have symptoms of more than one type of CP.

Things to know about CP:

  • CP is the most common motor disability of childhood. According to the CDC, about 1 in 345 children have been identified with CP and it is most commonly seen in boys.
  • Over half of children with CP can walk independently (about 50-60%)
  • Many children with CP have one or more additional conditions or diseases, known as co-occurring conditions. For example, about 4 in 10 children with CP also have epilepsy and 1 in 10 have autism.
  • Most CP is related to brain damage that happens before or during birth, this is called congenital CP. A small percentage of CP is caused by brain damage that happens more than 28 days after birth. This is called acquired CP.
  • CP is typically diagnosed during the first or second year after birth.

For more information about Cerebral Palsy visit the CDC’s website.